Ritchie, J. C. Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Last reviewed:March 2020
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- Northern taiga
- Middle taiga
- Southern taiga
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A zone of forest vegetation encircling the Northern Hemisphere between the arctic-subarctic tundras in the north and the steppes, hardwood forests, and prairies in the south. The taiga is the largest terrestrial biome (a major community of plants and animals having similar life forms or morphological features and existing under similar environmental conditions). Spanning across North America, Asia, and northern Europe, the chief characteristic of the taiga (Fig. 1) is the prevalence of forests dominated by conifers. The taiga varies considerably in tree species from one major geographical region to another. Moreover, within regions, there are distinct latitudinal subzones. The dominant trees are particular species of spruce, pine, fir, and larch. Other conifers, such as hemlock, white cedar, and juniper, occur locally, and the broad-leaved deciduous trees, birch and poplar, are common associates in the southern taiga regions. Taiga is a Siberian word, equivalent to "boreal forest." See also: Asia; Biome; Europe; Fir; Forest; Forest ecosystem; Forestry; Larch; Latitude and longitude; North America; Pine; Spruce; Tree; Tundra
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